Sandhill Cranes: Plein Air Sketching


Yes, no, this is not a Crane…

We arrive at Whitewater Draw a little before the cranes come in for their mid-day meet ‘n greet. Very near the Crane site, a Great Horned Owl has its perch up in the rafters of this barn. The Owl is not going anywhere, perfect for a sketch or two.


A little after 11 AM, the cranes begin to arrive at the draw. They are slow and careful coming down.



We watch and sketch for about an hour until most of them have landed, about 2,000 birds at this spot today.

DSC_0002 2

m. milstead, crane sketch

They will depart again to feed around 1:00 and return for the night at sundown.


Sandhill Cranes winter in southern Arizona from October to March each year.

They are an ancient bird with fossils dating back 10 million years.

They’ve travelled for at least two million years on this migration route.

They are depicted in petroglyphs along their migratory flyways.

The Hopi glyph for the Crane was adopted by the peace movement in the ’60s as the peace symbol we all know .

This prehistoric animal is way worth checking out. Sketching is the way to go!

Many Thanks to the Arizona Land and Water Trust and Julie Holding for the invitation.

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